“Double jobs” to disappear this yearLabor reform is dead ahead [Archives:2004/709/Business & Economy]

February 5 2004

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
The Yemeni government intends to implement reforms to renew the civil service by a growth percentage of 1.4 per cent. It will do so by replacing the groups categorized as surplus labour, or the pensioned, by those holding university degrees and specialties.
The plan also would eliminate double jobs from the payroll lists, and for attaining the employment of more than 124 thousand new employees by the beginning of 2008.
The administrative reform plan also stipulates taking strict administrative and legal measures to reduce the number of employees who are number about 404,522 by pensioning those whose ages and services have reached retirement, omitting names and double jobs from payrolls and referring surplus labour to the civil service fund.
In order to achieve goals, the government is hoping to draw from professionals holding specialties, and efficient people.
Minister of Civil Service Hamoud Khalid al-Soufi said that the strategy necessitates granting the unified employment card to all sectors of the state this year, and referring the surplus labour to the civil service fund.
The minister added that the civil service fund is one of the stages of administrative reform targeting a group of surplus employees and the government contributes to funding it out of the general budget by 100 per cent, as revenues and expenditure of the fund have this year amounted to YR 3 billion.
According to the strategy the fund would undertake compensating the employees with severance pay as well as rehabilitating them for a while, and also offering them easy loans from the local and foreign credit establishment to enable them to run private projects.
There would be in addition to that a possibility of distributing the surplus labour among new institutions in other governorates.
Director-general of the civil service bureau at the capital secretariat general Abdulqader Abdulla al-Soufi says in his study on surplus labour that the state bodies in Yemen are suffering from this phenomenon due to the party employment of unqualified persons and the cases of double jobs that have been settled.
All those have accumulated because of the psychological and mental sickness cases, those at the age of retirement, the dead and titles of the honored and martyrs as well as cases of employees doing no jobs, but still receiving salaries from the state budget despite their being sacked from their posts for various reasons, among them those seconded to the private sector.
While press sources have expected that the ministry of civil service would soon send around 70,000 of surplus labour to the fund of civil service.
Employees and the state budget contribute to civil pension fund with the aim of enabling the insured person to live a dignified life and guarantee the protection of the pensioned and their families against worry.
The Yemeni government has also expanded the base of insurance system to include employees working for the private sector by establishing the public institution for social securities that presently involves more than 2,883 installation insuring the life of 56,000 workers of both genders.
Volume of investments by the state establishment of social securities amount to about YR 14 billion, realizing an annual growth by 22% in favour of the individuals insured.
Revenues and expenditure of the establishment in the budget of this year are more than YR 27 billion. The budget of the state organisation of insurance and salaries for the year 2004 is estimated at more than YR 54 billion as the government insures more than 400,000 employees.
Activation of the civil service fund to accommodate the surplus labour has aroused protest of opposition parties that considered its approval as contradicting a number of constitutional texts and international agreements obligatory for Yemen.
The opposition has stressed in a statement that dispensing with labour and transferring it to the fund contradicts the World Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees the right to work and the constitution and labour law No. 5 for the year 1995 and the law of civil service No. 19 for the year 1991 that prevent reducing the number of employees for economic or organizational causes. This may lead to cause the state failure in performing its duties but nevertheless the parliament passed the law of founding the fund to continue the economic reform program which is being implemented since 1995 and stipulates the privatization of some floundering public projects.
The Yemeni opposition demands the government for allocating a proportion of amounts from assets of the establishment that is subject to privatisation for the benefit of the employees in order to provide them, and their dignity along with their families in case of dispensing with them.
While the opposition acknowledges that the phenomenon of double jobs at the civil, military and security sectors costs the budget more than YR 19.8 billion a year, the government confirms it would gain financial benefits out of implementing the privatisation program pursuant to a law issued in 1999.
Opposition circles also mention t at the process of privatisation, despite of its slowness, has caused about 81 thousand workers lose their jobs and tens of thousands of workers are on their way to join the market of unemployment even before being able to go through the civil service fund, for 25 thousand workers are expected to be dispensed with at the end of this year. The government is now implementing the second stage of the privatisation program as part of its 2nd five-year plan for the years 2001- 2005 that includes restructuring around 55 economic institutions, among which 11 industrial installations, 13 agricultural units, 16 in fish sector, 5 in trade sector and 5 establishments in transport sector.
The Yemeni council of ministers, last December, approved the privatisation of the state establishment.The cabinet had last year put the Yemeni company for drugs n the project of privatisation and approved the restructuring of number of state institutions as part of privatisation.
At the first stage of privatisation operation the government liquidated the ownership of, or rented about 16 industrial institutions and transferred their administration to the private sector in addition to renting 17 tourist installations and liquidated possession of some farms and opened contribution for investment in the area of communications.
According to privatisation measures, the situation and status of labour was left to be dealt with by the buyer of those installations, especially their salaries and wages. That has increased the volume of the unemployed in the labour market.
The question is whether the situation of workers and employees would be better by activating the civil service fund, or would the living conditions worsen?